insect bite

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Related to insect bite: mosquito bite, Spider bite

insect bite

An injury in which the body surface is torn by an insect, resulting in abrasions, punctures, or lacerated wounds. Insect bites cause more deaths than do snake bites. For more information, see entries for individual insects.


The reaction of a previously sensitized person is a potentially life-threatening medical emergency that requires prompt, effective therapy. Symptoms may include hives, itching and swelling in areas other than the site of the bite, tightness in the chest and difficulty in breathing, hoarse voice, swelling of the tongue, dizziness or hypotension, unconsciousness, and cardiac arrest.

First Aid

If the wound is suspected of containing venom, a bandage sufficiently tight to prevent venous return is applied if the bite is on an extremity. The wound is washed with saline solution thoroughly and a dry sterile dressing is applied. Appropriate antitetanus therapy is applied. Treatment for shock may be needed.

Some insect bites contain an acid substance resembling formic acid and consequently are relieved by topically applied alkalies, such as ammonia water or baking soda paste. For intense local pain, injection of local anesthetic may be required. Systemic medication may be needed for generalized pain.

Individuals who have had an allergic reaction to an insect bite may benefit from venom immunotherapy. This treatment involves administration of very small amounts of the insect venom over several weeks until immunity develops. Immunity is then maintained by periodic venom boosters.

Persons who have a history of an anaphylactic reaction to insect bites should avoid exposure to insects by wearing protective clothing, gloves, and shoes. Cosmetics, perfumes, and hair sprays should be avoided because they attract some insects, as do brightly colored and white clothing. Because foods and odor attract insects, care should be taken when cooking and eating outdoors.

See also: bite
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners

Patient discussion about insect bite

Q. an insect bite seems infected and is bleeding... the area under the skin is hard and sore... when pressed it bleeds quite a bit

A. It sounds like you have cellulitis around the area of the bite, and you should see a doctor to decide whether or not this requires antibiotics.

More discussions about insect bite
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References in periodicals archive ?
Another player in the category is Randob Labs Ltd., which continues to innovate with brand messaging around its Sting-Kill and Fire Out products formulated to deliver relief from pain and itching associated with insect bites. The Cornwall, N.Y.
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One of the leading ways in which pet owners can protect their pups from the dangers caused by insect bites is by ensuring that they organize a treatment with a local veterinary specialist as soon as possible.